Are dating apps still for love, or are we just messing around with them the same way we do on Snapchat and Instagram?
The answer is complicated, as are the relationships that often flow from these apps.
There are still a lot of people looking for the perfect match, but the dating app hateful, who matches people on the basis of things that they do not like each other, discovered an interesting trend among its users.
Brendan Alper, founder and CEO of the app, told Mashable that he recently noticed that a lot of them just didn’t seem to care where their potential matches were – because they had no intention to meet them IRL.
Hater, the app that lets you find love based on what you hate
When the app first launched in February, it garnered a lot of international attention, with people signing up in many different countries. There weren’t always enough users in a given region, so the app expanded the radius for people in those areas, allowing users to start matching anywhere in the world.
This may seem counterintuitive considering that people typically go on dating apps to find people in their neighborhood, but it was successful. So much so that the feature ended up crashing their servers and they had to remove the feature to rework things.
In April, they had reset it, calling it Global Mode. It is activated automatically if you refuse to give your location to the app, but you can also register yourself. Once you do, it allows you to match anyone across the world.
Hater quickly saw something fascinating: Their user base split in two. A party was still interested in meetings and meetings in the traditional sense of the term. But about 20% of their user traffic is in global mode, and these people mostly use the app just for hanging out and talking.
This segment is also much younger. In fact, the younger a user, the more likely they are to be in global mode. So what exactly are these kids doing? From surveys of users, Hater was able to establish that most of them were just chatting. It’s often somewhere between flirtation and pure friendship.
Alper suspects that the popularity of global mode is due to the fact that it mimics real life more than location-based correspondence: “When people want to meet someone in real life, they go to a bar. Bars aren’t just for singles. You go with your friends, whatever. ”And the conversations just flow more naturally.
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It’s not just Hater that people are using in this way. A recent poll found that over 90 percent of college students use dating apps for purposes other than connecting or finding love – they’re primarily there for the entertainment and ego-boosting you get by being ” love”.
They can be on to something. If you take the weight off of trying to find your soul mate or connection, dating apps are a lot more fun. They essentially become social networks, except that they are designed to meet new people. In comparison, most of the social media you already use are the best for you to interact with people you already know.
On a dating app, however, you’re guaranteed to be matched with new faces in your age range, and there’s the excitement that it could turn into something, even if you’re not very. invested in what’s going on.
There are many apps specially designed for chatting with strangers even focusing on harmless flirtation, like Phrendly. There are even simpler friend finder apps, like Me3. But something about Hater’s interface seems less intimidating.
The process of swiping over topics you love or hate is almost like playing a game. So, as Alper explains, it’s “a lighter, more friendly atmosphere”. He adds, “Dating expectations are hanging over everyone’s head with lots of apps. It’s more of an icebreaker. Just a fun chat, and one that can go anywhere.
Sorry guys, your favorite cargo shorts could ruin your love life.
This may also be why Hater has had a more organic transition to buddy-matching than some of the bigger players.
Many people use the major dating apps to expand their social circles. In an effort to capitalize on this, Bumble added Bumblebff in early 2016, and Tinder launched social tinder one year ago. But they didn’t really take off as the first way to find new friends.
Alper says he thinks it’s because there’s always a stigma attached to the idea that you need help finding friends. However, the stigma that once hung over online dating has dissipated as it has become such a common way to find love.
There’s a line drawn between the Friend Zone and the Bone Zone in other apps that isn’t here to Hater, which might explain why people feel free to take things wherever they take.
So what does it mean if apps that were once designed specifically for finding dates turn into a more general way to meet people purely for entertainment?
There are serious drawbacks. On the one hand, it dilutes the pool of potential matches for all of the people who are on Tinder and the like who genuinely want to find true romance – or at the very least want to find people to connect with in the flesh.
A new application immediately sends you a first appointment. No scanning, no messaging allowed.
It also allows people to step back further into the little tech bubbles that we have created for ourselves. Alper says it’s part of a larger culture shift: “People would rather go to the Grand Canyon to get likes on their Instagram than to experience the Grand Canyon. These online connections replace the need for physical connection.”
It’s a dark thought, though he adds, “It’s not true for everyone. Most people want a real connection.” And using dating apps in this way accomplishes that on some level. It gives people a low-key way to find friends – and maybe even a community – that they wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere.
So maybe it’s time to put Snapchat aside and start looking for your next BFF.
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